Student Engagement With Technology

This year the World History 9 Learning Team is investigating how technology can play a part in student engagement.  We are looking at the 5D indicators and trying to see how technology can enhance or impact the student’s experience when they are using Chromebooks in class.

Focus on Learning Targets

The first aspect to focus on the Learning Target.  Which targets contain language about discussion, understanding, providing evidence, making meaning, demonstrating knowledge, etc? Then we need to ask ourselves:  How could technology and/or student-engagement strategies impact the student learning in those targets?  Its essential that the teacher has a clear vision of what they hope to accomplish.

Choose Appropriate Technology

The next step is to choose the appropriate technology.  This can be challenging if you haven’t been exposed to what the various apps and software can do.  It can be helpful to observe teachers, view online examples or just try it out yourself.  Ask yourself:  Why choose that specific technology tool?  What does the technology tool provide that you cannot achieve without it?  The technology needs to make a difference – not just be a substitute digital solution.

World History 9 Example

To assist the World History 9 teachers in this process, I brainstormed a variety of technology tools and strategies and aligned them with the 5D Student Engagement guiding questions. For example:   SE1:  Intellectual Work:  Quality of questioning – Teacher frequently asks questions to probe and deepen students’ understanding or uncover misconceptions. Students question one another to probe for deeper thinking.


  • Use Padlet or Google Form/Doc to generate parking lot of questions or research questions around a central theme or during a class discussion.
  • Using a Google Form, a polling app to assess student’s understanding of a concept learned in class – works great as an opener which can then lead to a discussion.  (Socrative, GoFormative, Get Kahoot).  Make sure to use a variety of questions – not just recall.  Use Google Form graphs to analyze the results.
  • Another idea:  Have students create polls as part of a student presentation to engage the audience and receive feedback of the classes’ understanding of their presentation.
  • Use Edmodo or LMS Discussion Forum using the Socratic Seminar methodology for an asynchronous discussion.  Intentionally teach how to respond for this type of discussion – consider grading the responses with a rubric.  For in class seminar, require students to have digital copies of evidence to share during seminar.  Use a Google Doc or Today’s Meet backchannel for sharing during seminar

There are many more ideas on our planning document.  Make a copy for your own use


Google’s Chrome Browser vs. Chromebooks: Whats the difference?

A Chromebook is a different type of laptop. Instead of Windows or Mac OS, Chromebooks run Google’s Chrome OS. These machines are designed to be used primarily while connected to the Internet, with most applications and documents living in the cloud.

Google’s Chrome browser is a fast, simple, and secure web browser that you can use on any type of computer or laptop. Signing in to Chrome brings your bookmarks, history, and other settings to ALL your computers. It also automatically signs you into all your Google Apps for Education (GAFE) services.

What is the Chrome Web Store?  You can find apps, extensions, and browser themes for the Google Chrome browser in the Chrome Web Store. With these additions, you can do more with your Chrome browser or Chromebook.

  • These are a few of my favorite extensions:

    • URL shortener — This is a Chrome extensions that installs a small icon next to your search bar.  Click on it and it will shorten any long URL into a short one and even provide you with a QR code for the link!

    • Tech Smith SnagIt – This Chrome extension will allow you to capture a section of your screen or even a video of your screen to save as an image or movie

  • Favorite Chrome apps to use with students that can be installed directly from the Chrome Web Store

    • Newsela – published news articles with various reading levels

    • Canva – Simple templates for graphic design

    • Haiku Deck – Simple but visually stunning presentation templates

    • Socrative – Formative assessments with quizzes, polls & exit tickets

So, if you use the Chrome browser on your laptop, save bookmarks, add extensions and apps – then when you log onto a Chromebook – your browser will look the same!  This makes it super easy for our students and staff to transition back and forth between devices.